LAWRENCE (TNS) — Just like the actual Big 12 race, the conference's men's basketball player of the year competition figures to be decided the last game or two of the season.
"I don't think anybody has separated themselves," Kansas coach Bill Self said Thursday at his weekly news conference at Allen Fieldhouse. "Last year, Trae (Young, Oklahoma) and Devonte (Graham, KU) separated themselves from everybody else. You've got two first-team All-Americans. It was Trae and Devonte hands down and then everybody else.
"This year we're not going to have that in our league. We're not going to have multiple first-team All-Americans. This year the best player on the best team should probably win is how I feel about it."
A year ago, Graham edged Young for league player of the year honors. KU's Frank Mason won the award in 2016-17 and Oklahoma's Buddy Hield the two seasons before that.
"Barry Brown ... if K-State wins league he should be player of the year," Self said. "If we win, Dedric (Lawson, league's leading scorer and rebounder) should be player of the year. If Iowa State wins ... (Marial) Shayok. If Tech wins, (Jarrett) Culver."
Self noted that Baylor also is a team that can definitely win the league, but didn't mention any individual from that squad Thursday. Makai Mason leads the Bears in scoring at 14.6 points per game, which ranks ninth in the league.
"If it's a tie? I'd sell out it being a four-way tie and give it to all four," Self said. "Then it would probably come down to stats. To me if there is an outright winner, that guy deserves it."
Self was asked if he'd miss competing against some of the above mentioned players next season.
"No, not at all," he said with a smile. "I think there are certain guys who play for other teams, you enjoy the competitiveness. I remember going against (Iowa State's) Georges Niang and Monte Morris. We loved playing against them and they loved playing against us (and sometimes chatted with Self during games).
"They would always talk smack and all that stuff. There's not many guys in the league I do that with personally. When Blake (Griffin) and Kevin (Durant) and Michael (Beasley) all left ... as a competitor you miss going against those guys each and every year even though the reality of it is the reason why we miss the competitiveness is because they were the best our sport had to offer in those particular years.
"I don't think I'm going to miss Dean (Wade) and Barry (Brown) and (Kamau) Stokes that much. They've been really good players for K-State. They've represented their school in a tremendous way, all those things. I don't think anybody in our league missed Perry (Ellis) when Perry left. They were probably glad. It was probably his time to go even though he was here like 17 years."